Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Morning Adventures with Owen

Owen has always been a restless sleeper.  He wakes in the night, he wakes early in the morning.  Me, in Yellowstone—I was a restless sleeper (so much to see, do, “is that a bear?” sounds, etc.).  So when he woke up early on our second full day, and wanted to talk rather than go back to sleep, I suggested that he and I go looking for wolves in the Hayden Valley.

We didn’t see any wolves, but we did see lots of “pretty.”

Owen at Sulphur Cauldron (holding his breath, I’d bet). 

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The Hayden Valley at sunrise.

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After giving up on finding wolves, we made a quick detour to Artist Point, on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  The light was cool—it made the pictures look more like paintings.

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Sean and I had been trying to convince Owen that his smile, with teeth, looks much better in photos.  It was about this time that he started to listen to us.

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After the canyon, we headed back to our campground.  But just a few minutes before getting to our site, we saw an elk off the side of the road (actually, a bunch of people saw it—we saw the people, then the elk).  The coolest thing about this elk—the velvet on his antlers was starting to shed off.  I had never seen or thought about that before.  Elk antlers are the fastest growing mammalian tissue—they start growing a new set every year in March, when the previous year’s antlers are shed.  In about August, the nice soft velvety covering (apparently very sensitive as they are growing) starts to kind of scab up and itch.  The elk rub their antlers against tree trunks and such, trying to peel off the scab.  The velvet comes off in bloody strips, leaving bloody bone behind (you can see the velvet in the picture below—it looks like moss).  In September, the bull elk start their rut and fight with other bulls to win the rights to mate.  Then in March, they start all over again.

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